These are a few of our SOAP notes from today’s reading. We encourage you to read and journal on your own first, then join us in conversation about what God revealed to YOU today. Click HERE to go directly to the daily reading if you wish.
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Not So Sweet Revenge | Robin Laney
S~ The Philistines set out and made camp in Judah, preparing to attack Lehi (Jawbone). When the men of Judah asked, “Why have you come up against us?” they said, “We’re out to get Samson. We’re going after Samson to do to him what he did to us.” Three companies of men from Judah went down to the cave at Etam Rock and said to Samson, “Don’t you realize that the Philistines already bully and lord it over us? So what’s going on with you, making things even worse?” He said, “It was tit for tat. I only did to them what they did to me.” Judges 15:10-11 (The Message)
O~ Samson was selfish, prideful and misused his God-given strength. The Philistines were oppressive bullies. Because their hearts were all bent towards revenge, many people died and much property was destroyed. Samson’s wife to be was given to another man and then killed along with her father. His fellow countrymen handed him over to the enemy in order to save themselves and his girlfriend, Delilah, sold him out. His life ended in humiliation, blindness, and being crushed to death.
A~ So much pain in the world is caused by vengeful hearts. The desire to pay someone back, wrong for wrong, is so many times rooted in hurt, pride, and selfish ambition. We don’t want others to think we are weak. We don’t want anyone to have any advantage over us. We have been hurt by others and resolve never to feel that pain again and so we strike back to send a message that we aren’t to be messed with. We feel like we have to defend ourselves and our families and friends. Sometimes another person’s attack on us hurts so deeply that we just want them to suffer like we are suffering.
Unfortunately, our hearts are naturally bent this way. That old philosophy of an eye for an eye is in our very nature. Taking offense and seeking to make someone pay for your hurt might seem like the right thing to do and it is many times an automatic reaction to lash back. It sometimes even gives us a temporary sense of relief. But the repercussions of revenge are destructive, internally and externally. Holding unforgiveness in our hearts damages us emotionally, spiritually and physically. The hurt we inflict on others with our words and actions leave scars on their hearts as well. The collateral damage is in all of the other people who are on the receiving end of the hurts we inflict on each other. It’s a domino effect. Look at all of the damage caused by the revenge sought by Samson and the Philistines. Broken relationships, loss of property, betrayal, humiliation and death.
The law of an eye for an eye was given by God as a guideline for the carrying out of justice, corporately. It was never meant to justify personal retribution. Jesus made that very clear in Matthew when he tells us to turn the other cheek and pray for those who hurt us. True peace is found in forgiveness and kindness to one another. If you find this difficult, ask God to help you. You will be amazed at how paying back offense with love will lighten your load and allow you to experience a peace you haven’t known before.
P~ Lord, help us to extend grace instead of seeking revenge. Remind us of the grace You have given us. Make us humble enough to realize we are not perfect. Father, let us love instead of lay waste.
Our Family’s Foundation | Joni Tyner
S~ After all, who is Apollos? Who is Paul? We are only God’s servant through whom you believed the Good News. Each of us did the work the Lord gave us. “I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow.” It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What is important is that God makes the seed grow. The one who plants and the one who waters work together with the same purpose. And both will be rewarded for their own hard work. For we are both God’s workers. And you are God’s field. You are God’s building.
Because of God’s grace to me, I have laid the foundation like an expert builders. Now others are building on it. But whoever is building on this foundation must be very careful. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one we already have—Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 3:5-11 (NIV)
O~ The background of this scripture is that Paul brought the Good News to the people of Corinth. Apparently there was some argument about who was their leader and Paul is telling them the purpose is that they would all have faith in Jesus, that this is the foundation to build everything else.
A~ The Bible is God’s love letter to me, Joni. The more I read it, the more personal it becomes. It builds me up and gives me hope. As my application this morning, I decided to substitute words to make this scripture completely personal to me. As a disclaimer, perhaps I’ve inserted or misused a word that someone else might interpret differently—I realize this is on the internet and I’m certainly not a Bible scholar. My goal in journaling this morning was just so share that when we seek Jesus through reading His Word, I believe he responds to give us comfort, joy and hope. Here is goes…
After all, who is Joni or Mark? Yes, they have been serving me all these years. Yes, they did the assignment I gave them, they consistently took their children to church, Sunday School, vacation Bible school, summer camps. They talked about Me in their home, they prayed with and for their kids, they provided a fertile environment for them to grow and thrive.
Although this is good—they have been God’s servants, they need to realize that my work is not finished—these kids are ultimately Mine, and they are going to grow and build their faith in their own unique way—it may be through other believers, and it may be through tough circumstances. Joni and Mark, please remember, You are loved and through my grace to you, this foundation you built is that of an expert builder. No one can give your kids any other foundation than the one they already have—they have the strong foundation of Jesus Christ.
So, I chose to reveal my heart this morning, that I believe God’s truth for me. I don’t always understand it, I sometimes neglect us, but, at the end of the day, I am going to choose to believe that His Word is TRUTH.
Also, I don’t think our foundation building is complete—we still have work to do. We can’t believe for our kids, but, we can continue to fertilize the ground, continue to throw water and sunshine on that foundation. Over the past few months, my husband and I have recommitted to make a renewed effort to do this with our kids. We are “upping” our game by pursuing our kids through family dates, lunch outings, group texts and one on one interactions. The foundation and walls are still standing strong (again, because of God’s grace) and I believe they will be strong as the storms of life come and attempt to weaken the foundation.
P~ Dear Lord, can you please abundantly pour Your grace on me and give me renewed desire to keep showing up on the building of this family’s foundation? I ask for discernment that I don’t get distracted by less important things. I pray that every single conversation that was inspired by Your Spirit would resound in my kids hearts. I trust You for their future. I love You.
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